Women’s Empowerment Through Lenses of Queens.

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Netflix series, The Crown

 

Since the American election of Hillary Clinton’s name appearing on the ballot, Theresa May becoming prime minister of the United Kingdom, the second woman to serve that position since Margret Thatcher. Women have voiced their concerns and came together to march all over the world on January 21, 2017. Through the course of these events there has been more cinematography made with a female leaders, all in the purpose to send a message about women’s future roles as leaders and the change of gender roles in society. Shows that celebrate history through virtuous queens like Netflix’s series The Crown which highlights the life of Queen Elizabeth II and ITV’s series Victoria, which is about Queen Victoria’s life as a queen of the British Empire. Although majority of the world isn’t royal, these shows present themes of women’s accomplishments, strength, passion, leadership and determination to provide the best for their nation.While their husbands have greater strength to stand beside their wives and find ways to make their own influences they still have to give up parts of themselves to the women they love.

With the slow process of more women in powerful positions, it creates change in the gender structure. Nowadays in the workforce, women and men are working  and it’s not always an option for a woman to leave her career to support the family. Nor longer does the man have to be the breadwinner of the family, with that in mind. Men have to prove their strength of being in a nontraditional marriage and adapting to tasks that are usually linked with women. The Crown and Victoria represent these changes of gender roles for example in The Crown, notice how Queen Elizabeth II is taking care of political, societal issues and spending most of her time with her prime ministers, as opposed to her husband Philip who has to watch over the children, accompany his wife on her trips around the world and is limited on following his dream of becoming a pilot. It’s hard for Philip because he feels like his wife’s shadow, he can’t pass down his name nor can he and his wife Elizabeth live in their own private home. Ultimately, prince Philip proves his strength by standing by his wife’s actions. But both Prince Albert and Prince Philip aren’t  favored because of how their seen by family and parliament, both parties don’t think they are capable of having a significant role in power, one is seen as a German outsider and the other as having a youthful, too radical personality. It’s their wives love for their husbands that allows them to have more tasks for their country.

It’s encouraging and inspiring for young girl to see a TV drama which presents the direction of becoming an influential, female leader as much as it’s inspiring to see women currently in power on the news like watching the current Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. These messages through media influence girls to believe they are capable of accomplishing anything. But it’s their inner strength, the love of those dearest to them and their job that makes them even more powerful. These shows will leave any girl dazzled with delight that if she works hard, she’ll be living her life like a queen.

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ITV, Victoria. Leaders have historically been linked as a male dominated path but in the show Victoria, it’s Queen Victoria’s traits of stubbornness, her inner self will, determination, purity, willingness to learn and her attentiveness towards the people closest to her heart like Lord Melbourne and Prince Albert makes her a genuine leader despite her young age.

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A Tribute- Bill Cunningham

 

Bill Cunningham: New York, is a fabulous documentary I started my morning with to honor the legendary street photographer who passed last week. Cunningham worked for NY Times, Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune.

Bill Cunningham is a legend in photography because he is responsible for popularizing street photography. In fashion, he photographed the ordinary people on the streets of New York. Aside from the celebrities, runway shows, and elite society in NYC. Cunningham sought to find beauty on every corner of the world, he wanted to just live for the purpose of photographing clothes. Every time, he photographed an object it was to express the beauty of it. Not to harass or to insult an object. To him that wasn’t in his morals nor associated with his time.

I loved how Cunningham lived to photograph fashion yet he was incredibly humble. He had no ego whatsoever and lived his life casually but with a lot of heart and ambition. Although, he was friended by many of the elite of New York. By watching that documentary, it enforces living life to the fullest with passion by doing it right. Living honest and straight. Beautiful spirit.

I highly recommend watching Bill Cunningham: New York even if one isn’t into fashion or photography, it’s a life lesson on how to live passionately.

RIP Bill Cunninghalm

Dior and I- Documentary

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        Dior and I,  this documentary highlights the behind the scenes effort to make a Haute Couture collection. Specifically, the first collection by creative director Raf Simons for the Spring/Summer 2013 collection. All created in 8 weeks. It takes an enormous amount of effort and time to create such a collection because Simons works with the Dior atelier he barely knows at the time, he takes the time to visit modern art museums and study Dior’s classics like the “New Look” to revamp Dior.

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 In addition, to all the pieces having to be sewn by hand and painted by hand to prove Dior’s pure artistry in the fashion industry. The atelier has to work day and stay up long nights before runway presentations. I like to think this documentary is an ode to Dior and give the world an inside take of the high fashion industry. It’s not the designer who comes up with the collection, but it’s the designer falling under pressure with a corporation’s time and budget. Simons had to design in an effective time frame and work under Dior’s design budget. Not only is there pressure for Simons to prove he can design clothing but if his clothes can create a rave for the company and get all the work done to analyze every piece before the presentation. 

        My favorite part of the collection is when Simons took inspiration from Jeff Koons to make a flowered walls for the runway and the clothes were inspired by art work he read about in the New York Times.

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       I loved Simons personality, he’s such an intellectual yet a introverted man, it’s refreshing to see that personality in the fashion industry. He took such a risk to go from designing men’s ready to wear to women’s haute couture. What a transformation.

I never realized the amount of effort that goes into couture for the atelier, couture is the true art piece in fashion. That’s why this documentary is worth watching.

 

*It’s important to note- Raf Simons is not the creative director at Dior anymore, he left in October 2015.

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Versailles 73: American Runway Revolution

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See that woman in the green jacket standing on the left?

Her name is Deborah Riley Drapper and under Coffee Bluff pictures ( Coffee Bluff Pictures presents Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution ), Drapper has directed 2 documentary films. She came to speak to my fashion class about her 2 films Versailles 73: American Runway Revolution and Olympic Pride- American Prejudice.

Such an honor to hear from an inspirational woman, who came and made an effort to speak to my college- Santa Monica College. Since, this is a fashion blog I will share the key information on the film Versailles 73.

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Versailles 73: American Runway Revolution directed by Deborah Riley Drapper talks about the revolutionary step in American fashion. in 1973, there was a competition at Palais de Versailles between 5 French brands- Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Pierre Cardin and Emmanuel Ungaro and 5 American Brands Oscar De la Renta, Bill Glass, Anne Klien, Steven Burrows and Halston. Ever since the competition the birth of American designers gaining world recognition was born. It’s really the birth of American street wear.

Before the competition that occurred, American fashion wasn’t well known around the world, nor was it taken seriously. American designers were more spread out and were built under private investors. French fashion is as always had the reputation of being the best in the world and having government funding and government recognition. The competition is what helped American designers share their talents and prove America was a fashion destination aside from Europe. It also proved since American designers were funded by private investors, there was more room for creativity and free thinking, rather than be restricted by rules and traditions in which the French had.

To conclude, American fashion started it’s world reputation in the year 1973 and today America is home to some of the best designers like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg and the list goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion History Film List

To learn a thing of two about fashion history, why not do so while having fun? Here are my top fashion film choices to learn a bit on every era in fashion.

 

Cleopatra- Starring Elizabeth Taylor (1963) is amazing for the exaggeration of Ancient Egyptian fashion. The beauty of this film is that it can be watched without sound, it’s all visually stimulating like the ancient Roman clothing, Egyptian decor, and the views of Egypt.  The only flaw with this one is it’s running time- around 4 hours. I split this film for 2 days to watch it in it’s entirety. cleopatra_glamour_3jun13_PR_b_720x1080

Elizabeth- Starring Cate Blanchett (1998)- A strong female leader like Queen Elizabeth I is portrayed beautifully in this film and an inspiration for female empowerment. I loved the Elizabethan fashion from the pearled hair, ruffles and elaborate farthing gales.

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Marie Antoinette- Starring Kristen Dunst (2006). Anything French history related I am obsessed with. My personal favorite era in fashion is Rococo, which is the 18th century style popularized in France and Germany. I love this film because it’s a very modern take on Marie Antoinette’s life from her childhood in Austria till her escape of France during the French Revolution. It’s very frilly and a fun kind of film. No blood and no violence!

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The Young Victoria- Starring Emily Blunt  (2009). Royal Victorian fashion is breathtaking. I couldn’t get enough of both the men’s and women’s fashion in this masterpiece. The splendor of this film is the portrayal of Queen Victoria’s early life through her diary and her romance with Prince Albert. Perfect romance and historical film.

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My Fair Lady- Starring Audrey Hepburn (1964). Impeccable Edwardian fashion. This has to be one of my favorite musicals of all time.  I love the story line of how Eliza goes from this ungraceful Scot to become one of the most elegant women in England because of the training of the phonics teacher Mr. Higgins. This is a must watch!

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The Great Gatsby- Starring Mia Farrow (1974) In my opinion I love the 1974 version of this F. Scott Fitzgerald classic more than the 2013 one. All the Art Deco fashion in this film is designed by Ralph Lauren. I love the costume design because it’s american fashion done with sophistication and simplicity despite the decorativeness of the 1920s.

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Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It’s Luster

Dana Thomas wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read when it comes to the combination of everything is to know about the Luxury business. It stretches from how small businesses became corporations, the mass production of luxury goods to appeal to the middle class, the loss of authenticity and where the luxury market stands today in our economy. I personally loved it because it was a big overview of the luxury industry, it wasn’t one sided towards a particular part in luxury or one brand. It covers the costs to making couture, ready to wear, handbags, and fragrance.

The important topics Deluxe covers:

  • History of fashion brands like Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and etc.
  • The brands corporations like LVMH, Prada and Gucci Group control and the growth of corporation in luxury fashion.
  • Luxury brands influence on tourists like in luxury shops opening in Las Vegas and Hawaii and the growth in flagships around the world like in Japan, Russia and China.
  • Celebrities influence on fashion
  • History of the fragrance, silk and handbag industries
  • Costs it takes luxury brands to make products and mark up pricing
  • Influence of the online luxury shopping like Net-a-Porter
  • Counterfeit industry in China, New York and LA.

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It’s Luster is a book to read for anyone interested in the luxury side of the fashion industry because the high fashion industry is what influences the other classes in fashion like the middle, low and fast fashion industry.

 

The True Cost

The True Cost directed by Andrew Morgan is an insightful documentary on the cost of fast fashion. This documentary primarily highlights the flaws of the current system in the fashion industry.

After watching this documentary, I have been inspired to be more of a conscious consumer and buy quality not quantity, thus I will do my best NOT to shop at fast fashion brands.

Some important facts to consider from the documentary:

  •  The fashion industry is the second industry in the world responsible for polluting our planet, the first is the oil industry.
  • 3% of clothing in the USA is made in the USA, 97% outsourced. In the 1960s 97% of clothing was produced in the USA.

 

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  • In the fast fashion stores (H&M, Wal-Mart…etc) the workers (in places like Bangladesh, China, Cambodia) have harsh working conditions, low wages and no alternatives are made because the governments of those countries want to keep prices to low to keep having business.
  • 40 Million workers in Bangladesh are mainly women in the garment industry and make less than $3 a day!
  • Clothes that are made with harsh, non degradable material can’t be recycled and end up in landfills.
  • The GMOs and other harsh chemicals are having an impact on our environment. They pollute rivers, contaminating the soil of cotton fields and it causes brain tumors to men working in agriculture.

With all these problems in the fashion industry the only current solutions for a consumer are to buy more expensive clothes or conscience clothes made from organic materials. Another solution can be from the corporations themselves by raising prices of their clothing.

To learn more about the The True Cost– Check out their website- The True Cost

The Leopard

“Be the swan surrounded by a lake of frogs.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.44.54the_leopard__claudia_cardinale_1963The_Leopard_rgb062910leopard718Gorgeous Italian film. It is highly recommended film for lovers of fashion history.  This film is about the 1800’s unification of Sicily with the rest of Italy, so you get to learn some Italian history and language for 3 hours.
Visually the film is beautiful, not only for the Italian landscape. I love the costume design of the Victorian era with the mix of italian bright colors. The men’s top hats, tail coats and military uniform, and the women’s bright colored dresses whether it was for the everyday or the ball gowns. Stunning!

It’s interesting how much this film has analogies to the Virgin Mary and how many themes are symbolized with History of Italy and Spain, Italian Artwork and Catholicism.

-Eman Alami